Man Utd ‘blew Arsenal out of the water’ in Cristiano Ronaldo transfer battle

Man Utd ‘blew Arsenal out of the water’ in Cristiano Ronaldo transfer battle

A teenage Cristiano Ronaldo was on the verge of signing for Arsenal before Manchester United “blew them out of the water”.

The Portuguese sensation moved to the Premier League in 2003 after famously catching Sir Alex Ferguson’s eye when former side Sporting Lisbon faced United in a pre-season friendly.

Ferguson was so impressed by the skilful youngster that he left his United players waiting while he agreed a fee in the region of £12million with the Portuguese club immediately after the match.

Ronaldo has since gone on to establish himself as one of the greatest players in the history of the game and sealed the first of his five Ballon d’Or trophies during his first United stint back in 2008.

Sir Alex Ferguson convinced a teenage Cristiano Ronaldo to join Manchester United over Arsenal
(
Manchester United via Getty Images)

The all-time record international goalscorer completed a stunning return to Old Trafford in the summer, but it could have been so different had he signed with Arsenal all those years ago.

After dinner and talks with manager Arsene Wenger back in 2003, it looked like that was going to be the case, before Ferguson’s United spectacularly gazumped the Gunners.

“We are now turning the clock back when Cristiano was 17 and playing in the Portuguese Under-19 team,” former Arsenal chief David Dein began when addressing the Ronaldo negotiations while speaking at an event for the Twinning Project at the London Palladium on Monday night.

“He was spotted by our chief scout. Arsene said: ‘Look, do you want to go over and see him play?’ I said: ‘Yeah sure, I’ll go across’.

“I went with our chief scout and I remember seeing the Portuguese Under-19 team play and Cristiano did really well.

“Then the agent, who was with us at the time, said: ‘Well, believe it or not he is going to meet us for dinner afterwards’.

Would Cristiano Ronaldo have achieved as much success had he joined Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal? Comment below

Arsene Wenger wanted Ronaldo at Arsenal but United “blew them out of the water”

“We had a dinner at a sort of a curb-side restaurant. He was a really nice guy and he actually gave me his shirt. It’s one of several shirts that I’ve got hanging in my cupboard at home. He gave me his shirt that he played in.

“We discussed a little bit of money and the agent said: ‘Well, let him think about it overnight’. Then Cristiano said: ‘I’ve got to go now, my bus is going’.

“He jumped on his bus and he went home. The following day I was discussing with the agent and about six hours later Manchester United blew us out of the water.

“That was the Cristiano Ronaldo story. I think we were being used a little bit as a stalking house, because I think he was always going to go to Manchester United at the time.”

Wenger also revealed that Arsenal were in for Barcelona academy trio Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas when they were starting out on their career paths around 20 years ago, however, they only managed to snap up the latter.

“They [Barcelona] had Fabregas, Messi and [Gerard] Pique in the same generation,” Wenger said.

“We tried to get [them]. Messi was not possible, Barcelona extended it [his contract]. Fabregas wanted to leave, Pique as well.

“He [Pique] landed at Manchester United and Cesc joined us. I refuse to go into that game, because if I go into my room and write on the wall all the players I miss out on, I don’t finish well my life.”

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